How to Motivate Young Academics

I have a genius proposal as to how to promote enthusiasm for teaching among new faculty members and get them to love their students.

The proposal is very simple, it costs nothing to implement, and the results will be spectacular. Freshly minted PhDs who enter colleges as new Assistant Professors should be given only Freshman Seminars to teach for the first two years of their tenure track.

Those young academics who survive this ordeal will never complain about teaching or their students again. Higher-level students they will get to teach after the Freshman Seminars will seem absolutely brilliant to them. And they will feel so grateful to their administrators for getting them out of teaching freshmen that their loyalty to their college will be limitless.

I taught freshmen only once, last semester. As a result, the more advanced students I have now seem almost bizarrely intelligent, hardworking, responsible, mature, and enthusiastic about learning. Imagine, none of them spend half of the class period chanting “I want multiple choice!” And when I come into the classroom and greet them, they greet me, too. They also sign their emails.

“I’m not sure if I ever taught a Freshman Seminar,” a colleague says pensively.

“If you are not sure, then you haven’t taught it,” I say. “This is not an experience one is likely to forget.”

7 thoughts on “How to Motivate Young Academics”

  1. Eeeep. As an aspiring future academic and someone who has been in Freshman seminars only three years ago, I can’t deny its effectiveness, but I think it would give me grey hair.


  2. That’s funny Clarissa. Separate the weak from the strong, right? HOWEVER…

    What happens when you teach Freshman your first few years and get to look forward to doing so the rest of your entire life?


    I think we should just cancel Fall Semester. Or drink copious amounts.Its so much worse.

    Every year without fail the Freshmen in the fall are arrogant, unprepared, freaked out, and maladjusted. By Spring, Freshmen have had a reality check and are generally nice and try harder. It’s those Fall kids that kill me.

    Here’s how to motivate new faculty: vacations in Rio after two years.


  3. How about we make academics teach 12th grade for a year? The students are about the same age and intelligence level as freshmen college students. They just have one foot out the door (most of them will have sent out college applications by November) and they have mommy and daddy to protect them. A year of that and even freshmen will start to look good.


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